BUCK 65 at the Rivoli, September 7. Tickets: $14-$15. Attendance: 200. Rating: NN
If we Canadians ever wanted to create our own über-polite version of the east/west rivalry that plays itself out stateside, we'd have our work cut out for us. Representin' from the west, you got folks like the Rascalz and Swollen Members, and skipping over the T-Dot ('cause we fancy ourselves oh so central), you got the weird stylings of East Coast contender Buck 65.
'Course, it wouldn't be much of a showdown. First of all, we're so polite, our hiphop war would be more of a goofy fish fight -- no gats, no chains, just bitch-slappin' with cod versus salmon.
More importantly, it's not fair to lump Nova Scotian Richard Terfry (as Buck 65's accountant calls him) in with true headz. He may be categorized as hardcore rap on the Internet's All Music Guide, sharing space with the Wu-Tang and Biggie, but Buck's shtick is more stand-up comedy meets downtempo triphop.
Buck 65 charmed the not-so-hardcore crowd at the Rivoli from the get-go with rambling anecdotes about life in Paris, wheelbarrows full of cocaine and chowing down on Indian food beside Cito Gaston.
But Buck 65 falters when he has to match rhymes with beats. His pacing is pedestrian and his rhythms rickety. The show had a decidedly downtempo vibe. Track after track featured loping, drawn-out beats and sludgy samples of ominous filmic music. Think the Herbaliser after a few too many tokes.
The scruffy rapper-cum-turntablist struggled with sound system glitches for the better part of his set. Dude's scratches are fairly banal to begin with -- he's no Kid Koala, that's for sure -- and the constant skin-crawling staticky fuzz made the repetitive patterns even more irritating. It's impressive to see a guy handle the mike and decks in tandem, but he'd do a lot better if he wore one hat at a time.
Once Buck 65 brought out a full backing band, the show picked up. Against lovely instrumental backdrops ranging from spaghetti westerns to sunny surf guitars to sugarplum fairy music boxes, the man was in his element.
Still, it was less authentic hiphop than intelligent spoken-word-inflected deep slacker jazz à la Soul Coughing. firstname.lastname@example.org